I remember a time when I was filled with a strong and righteous anger, which I carefully nourished by collecting stories that proved my point. I went off on a weekend retreat, hoping to get some rest. The first evening began with the simple statement: “We are all sinners.” I still recall the strong feeling that rose up in me. “Not me, I am not the sinner. Do you know what those others are doing?” Then came the next statement: “If we are not sinners, we have no need of the Lord.” I was silenced. My anger drained away, leaving me facing my own flaws, with the Lord by my side.
In today’s gospel, we can feel the bloodthirsty, righteous anger of the mob that brings the woman caught in adultery before Jesus. They have been looking for the opportunity to remove him, for his words and actions are causing so much trouble in their world. Finally, this is the moment. If he upholds the Law of Moses, they can stone the woman, and his reputation as the one who helps the helpless will be destroyed. If he does not uphold the Law, they can have him killed.
Jesus chooses another way. He holds up a mirror and invites each person to take a look at what they see.